Welcome back, writers! It’s time for another Monday installment of Being a Better Writer!
Well, and some news. I’ve got the serious news, and I’ve got the chill news. We’ll go with the serious news first: I will be in Alaska starting April 20th and off the grid.
Those of you that are long-time readers of this site know what that means. I’m headed up to Alaska for a fishing trip. Two, in this case. I’ll be back hopefully in six weeks, since the plan this time is to take five weeks.
Now, if you’re wondering “What about Being a Better Writer?” never fear, I’ll be spending a good chunk of this week getting all those posts up and scheduled properly. So there won’t be a drought while I’m gone, just as before. That said, if you’re using a site that relies on cross-posts to deliver Being a Better Writer content, you may not be seeing some of those non-automated cross-posts appearing. So just be aware that the best way to get your BaBW fix is to hit up the site itself.
Okay, that’s the serious news. What’s the chill news? I’ve seen The Super Mario Bros. movie, and it’s a lot of fun.
It’s also not a complicated movie, and I think this is where some of the critical miss is coming from. A lot of critics seem unable or unwilling to experience a movie that’s primary aim is just fun. And that’s Super Mario Bros. Given the games, I think that’s entirely accurate: A Mario movie shouldn’t be trying to be some massive allusion for oil, corporations, or “the meaning of life.” And that’s okay. Some movies are just fun, and that’s what Super Mario Bros. is trying to do.
I personally saw it as succeeding in that regard, and I’ll even give it credit that it did go a little further than it had to. It didn’t have to give all its characters little touches of personality with personal goals to achieve, but it did, and the movie was better for it. It definitely didn’t need to give Princess Peach the care and attention it did—I say this to mean that Illumination could have easily made her a standard Disney Princess fare and no one would have batted an eye—but they went ahead and did that anyway, delivering what was honestly one of the better “strong female protagonists” I’ve seen in a recent animated feature. Certainly better than any recent Disney movie has managed in that regard. She’s a princess who actually cares about her subjects and manages a kingdom! Acting like a ruler, while still showing that sometimes the weight of her crown is heavy, etc.
Basically, I had a lot of fun because I expected to have fun. There were a lot of good laughs, plenty of visual movement and humor to watch, tons of callbacks that—to me, at least—didn’t feel egregious, and while it’s definitely a movie where the characters are driven by simple goals and are largely moving along to keep the plot going to the next big set-piece … that doesn’t mean at all that it isn’t fun.
So yeah, ignore the critics who don’t seem to remember what “fun” is (to them, probably something that comes served on a wooden plank with a small lecture about your eco-sustainability during political elections or similar such nonsense). Just go expecting bright, colorful worlds, classic Mario tunes, and a confrontation with Bowser.
Oh, and Chris Pratt’s voice acting work is fine. Totally fine.
Will there be a longer “review” of it later? Probably. My thoughts are still settling, but overall the experience was a highly positive one. It’s straightforward, uncomplicated, fun. If you like the sound of that, I’d encourage checking it out.
All right, let’s set aside the news and talk about today’s Being a Better Writer post, shall we? A few of you might have looked at that topic and wondered exactly where this was going to go, especially if you’ve been on the Discord recently, but a certain bit of reader response to a book there actually came after this topic going on the list. It was just pure coincidence that said book happened to … Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Today we’re talking about “soft magic.” Or, alternatively, we’re discussing what a “soft magic system” is, since some will be thinking “I know of Hard Magic, but not soft” and others are probably still going “Wait, isn’t it just magic?”
So, hit the jump, and let’s start there first. Let’s talk about what Soft Magic is and what makes it different from Hard Magic. Once we’ve got that baseline established, then we can talk about the use of Soft Magic in your stories. Hit the jump!Continue reading